Woodside Energy drills for insight with cognitive computing

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No geologist or engineer goes into their career thinking they’d love to spend Monday through Thursday full time hunting for needed nuggets of information, and only on Friday possibly getting the opportunity to come up with innovative solutions. But, that’s the harsh reality. With over 30 years of experience building and operating liquefied natural gas plants, we are effectively drowning in data. Woodside Energy has far too many documents for simple keyword searches to be effective anymore. And, we have some long-tenured individuals starting to retire.

Harnessing cognitive computing

We need a system to understand and re-interpret all of our documents, and then surface insights really quickly, so we can save our engineers time and money.

By training IBM Watson, even our newest employees can get to the information they need quickly. The first time I saw Watson successfully uncover an obscure and very difficult technical problem, I heard one of our senior project managers literally cheer. That’s the excitement we are seeing, from all levels, about the insights and efficiencies we’re gaining with this cognitive computing solution.

Scaling Watson across company disciplines

Oil and gas has lots of different disciplines, so we’re looking to scale across our company. We initially trained Watson on big capital projects and then we taught it drilling. We’re now moving to health and safety. Each discipline has a different language; but, yet, it’s all connected.

The bigger problems that we face aren’t just in one single domain. So, to solve our bigger challenges, we have to go across multiple domains. Watson is helping us bring all of those pools of knowledge to every employee, regardless of their specific discipline. For example, they might not be a driller, but Watson can help them by providing relevant drilling insights. I think that cross-discipline knowledge sharing and collaboration is going to help us solve problems we haven’t been able to address before.

Solving big challenges

The big advantage that cognitive computing gives us is the amount of time our engineers can dedicate to data insights. Instead of spending 80 percent of their time on data collection, they can now spend 80 percent of their time on data insight. And, that is the real value of cognitive: We get to answer tougher questions faster and with more accuracy. Ultimately, with cognitive computing, our team can find more oil and gas more efficiently and in a safer way, both for our people and the environment. We can also be more successful, so our shareholders benefit.


Read more about how Woodside is using cognitive technology to extract decades of experience from an ocean of data in this case study:

Hear more about Woodside’s cognitive journey by watching the following interview with Russell Potapinski, Woodside Energy Head of Cognitive Science:

All images courtesy of Woodside Energy



Woodside Energy SVP & CTO

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